ARTICLE: Annie Hensley

Scale up, speed up, save up: 5 benefits of partnering with an external agency for EdTech product design

You’re responsible for ensuring the successful development, launch, and management of your company’s EdTech products. But between internal politics, siloed communication, and limited resources for design and research, your job is anything but simple. 

Hiring a third-party agency like Openfield can provide the external support teams like yours so often need. We’re an ideator partner that isn’t beholden to internal politics, allowing for faster and more collaborative decision-making. Additionally, we have the resources to scale up our team or supplement internal teams as needed. Our approach keeps iterative, scalable projects moving beyond the finish line.

Here’s How an External Agency Partner Can Support Your EdTech Product Team

1. Staying objective

Openfield brings a combination of institutional knowledge and objectivity, allowing us to work both above and within our clients’ organizations. We provide the outside perspective that internal teams often need to create alignment and streamline your processes. 

A significant challenge for internal teams is navigating everyone’s ideas, agendas, and initiatives. Your product team is eager to get a new feature on the market because instructors are requesting it, for instance, while someone from learning science is concerned that adding the new feature will undermine the learning experience the team has worked so hard to establish. Elsewhere, engineering wants to scrap the product team’s idea entirely because of its scope. And just when you think things couldn’t get any more complicated: someone from your CX team shares feedback that they’ve had a high volume of support tickets guiding users through a particular process in your product.

We find that internal teams simply respond better when someone outside of their company consults their projects. Why? There’s no angle. We aren’t beholden to any one department, and because we’re well-resourced, we can scale up according to scope without overburdening any particular department.

2. Ensuring smooth communication and collaboration

“Collaboration” is an overworked phrase. Rarely is it actually lived out — particularly with digital product teams. But collaboration is instrumental to the success of your EdTech to create a seamless experience, both internally and with your users. Openfield has cross-communication and cross-discipline baked into our process, guaranteeing that alignment. 

And that communication never stops. Some clients harbor the misconception that external agencies disappear after an initial consultation and only resurface when they’ve finished a prototype. In reality, we set up touchpoints with you at least once a week to ensure we’re on the right track and pivoting as needed. This is in addition to daily communication via Slack, or whichever format is most comfortable for you. Our door stays open, preventing any lapses in communication as a team.

3. Creating solutions based on real-world experience in EdTech

Any design agency you partner with must understand your business and its objectives from the jump. Openfield has the EdTech experience to solve all manner of user needs, and we know what works. That means we can be discerning in our approach to your UX design and research solutions, ensuring that our designs for your end-to-end experience match your specific needs. 

And when it comes to buzzworthy trends in EdTech, we don’t necessarily believe the hype. Unless it adds value to your user experience, the hottest tools on the market are only valuable to us if they prove their worth in testing and validation.

4. Properly resourcing your team for scale and speed

One of the biggest benefits of partnering with Openfield is we have the resources to scale up your team and support you across verticals. And that saves major time — in more ways than you might think.

With most internal teams, UX designers work within a defined design system. They might build high-fidelity prototypes early in the design process, pick one, and push it along to production, thinking it’s the fastest and simplest way to get products on the market. 

Sounds like a time-saver, but actually, a larger team with a fast and loose ideation process is much more efficient. At Openfield, we often employ lower fidelity prototypes to help product teams agree on how to move forward. What’s most important is that you use the right fidelity at the right time for quick ideation, alignment, and sometimes research. 

Why? Before diving into design specifics or UI implementation, it’s critical that we confirm we’re solving the right user problems and that the proposed user flow makes sense in your overall UX.



Too often, internal teams find out the hard way that without that critical validation step, their solutions don’t necessarily solve user problems at all. And by that point, they’re already midstream in a lengthy and costly development process. Openfield’s pliable approach generates unique, innovative ideas that can be validated with users quickly before we commit to a single direction, ensuring from the start that you won’t lose out on time or money.

5. Establishing a stronger foothold in the marketplace

Our ability to scale is especially valuable if you’re concerned about losing your edge in the marketplace. Quickly adding a product or feature to your EdTech can be a smart step if you need to add or keep business, but you should never compromise on quality. 

As your design partner, it’s our job to iterate a concept ready for quick release, but we won’t just make a minimum viable product. Whatever we build, however quickly we build it, the product must meet user needs and have a foundation that our team can continue to scale. Our “all hands on deck” resourcing can add firepower to your team to create quick and viable products. And It’s more than any internal designer and research team can do alone.

Curious about how a partnership with Openfield might benefit your EdTech? Get in touch with us.

  • Photo of Annie Hensley
    Annie Hensley

    As Director of UX Design, Annie is responsible for ensuring our team continues to deliver superior client and user experiences that result in tangible business outcomes. That includes fostering collaboration and crossover between our design and research teams, mentorship and career guidance, stewardship of Openfield’s culture and values, as well as, contributing to strategic decisions that ensure our company continues to evolve to meet the changing needs of EdTech clients and users. As an IAAP Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC), she is committed to ensuring accessibility standards are met by our team. Annie is a lifelong runner who completed the Boston Marathon for a second consecutive year in 2023. She is an avid lover of parks of all sorts – theme parks, ballparks, and National Parks (even revisiting Parks and Recreation too many times to count).

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